As more and more businesses understand and realize that customers are no longer being reached on traditional marketing channels, the focus is on digital tools and channels like never before.
This has led to a rapid growth in the “digital marketing” industry, with new companies opening up every other day.
With this, the competition has become heated on two fronts:
- Between the new age digital marketing companies (i.e. the “cool” growth hackers) and the traditional creative / publishing / PR agencies.
- Between the digital marketing companies which, without understanding the value and market, proceeded to compete on prices.
While both of these races have helped clients choose from a wide array of services, it has also built a rather narrow view of what marketing in the digital age entails. Furthermore, as traditional agencies realized that business was being taken away from them, a defensive approach meant that they discredited any need or reason to go digital.
“Digital (Facebook) is a complete waste of time and money, it adds ZERO value to a client,” said one of the owners of a leading creative agency.
Similarly, the “new age growth hackers” have positioned themselves as a “cheap” alternative to any businesses to run their marketing campaigns. Without recognizing that marketing actually implies to understand a need, create value to deliver that need and then communicate that value, the collective voice was (and still is) that digital is cheaper, just on the basis of advertisement spend.
The added pressure to be trendy and current actually adds to the creative costs many times when a business engages to leverage a digital platform for their communication.
So what happened next?
As businesses followed other businesses (mostly because of FOMO, fear of missing out), the misconception spread like wildfire, and for most business professionals, Digital Marketing starts and ends with Facebook posts (the more the better) and boosts (the cheaper the better).
This means that when we (i.e. ACT360) propose to review an organization’s marketing, and hence the digital strategy at the start of new engagements, we are almost always questioned about its necessity. Such is the narrow view on marketing on digital platforms that we are often asked questions like, “How many posts will you do?” which, to be honest, is irrelevant.
So what does matter?
This narrow view has the potential to not only be ineffective but actually harm existing brand equity that age-old agencies might have had built for the brand. The reason being that with most of these “Facebook marketing”, no strategic vision for marketing is formulated.
This precedent defeats one of the many benefits the marketers get from the digital world – a consistent feedback loop (through several metrics) of where their marketing strategy and implementation is heading. After all, if you do not know what you are doing, you will not know what to measure and hence whatever you are doing will be irrelevant.
In cases when the business professionals do track metrics, these often are, what has come to be known in digital marketing lingo as, vanity metrics. These include things like page likes, number of likes on posts, number of people sharing your post, and more.
While these all sound good to your ears, do they tell you anything about how effective your marketing campaign was?
Very few professionals actually look beyond these vanity metrics and compare the marketing efforts to real business metrics such as acquisition cost, lifetime value of a single customer, etc.
Points to consider
Another important issue to note is that all social platforms are what we call “rented” platforms.
Businesses do not own 100% of these platforms, so any change in how they decide to behave will have an adverse effect on your whole marketing program. For e.g., organic reach in Facebook is close to zero now as Facebook works to show more content for private digital spaces. Google+ also recently shut down so any marketing effort on that platform any business had done would be of no value now.
As you can see, it is more important to spend at least some of your digital marketing budget to build content in the digital assets you own. These include websites, apps, discussion boards, and forums. And this brings us to a point why businesses still might need to work with creative agencies who will probably have better resources to create communications that stick.
Digital marketing companies can then help businesses curate this content in different platforms (both owned and rented) which requires a different skill set, expertise, and resources altogether.
Regardless of how marketing workflow is set up in your firm, you may work with one single agency (either traditional or digital) or with multiple agencies, to make marketing work in the digital world, we recommend you always remember that “Digital marketing is not limited to Facebook Advertising.”